Ductwork Hygiene and Air Quality

Ventilation and air conditioning systems are installed within the building to supply and extract air from the rooms. This is the fresh air, that you and your colleagues are inhaling during your working day. But is it fresh enough? Is it clean? Have you ever thought about what you really breathe in?

Despite air filters fitted in the system, there is a high possibility that contaminants have accumulated in the ductwork throughout the years.  

What are the Problems

High moisture, warm conditions and poor hygiene of ductwork can potentially lead to the growth of harmful pathogenic microorganisms. Bacteria and fungus can grow rapidly and can cause big health problems. The chart below shows some of them.

Possible Result of Contaminated Air Conditioning Systems

Whilst it is possible for the list below to be found in systems in harmful quantities it is in fact rare. However regular cleaning and sanitising will prevent this.

Symptoms Possibilities Cause Type Category name
Hay fever, colds, Asthma type symptoms, Wheezing, Breathlessness, Runny nose Severe lung and ear infections Fungi Aspergillus Cladosporium penicillium
Itchiness on skin with special emphasis on genital area and mouth Severe skin and genital infections Fungi Rhodotorula Candida
Itchiness, Sore skin, Tendency to scratch Dermatitis, Ring worm, Scalp infections Fungi Trichophita Microspora
Sore throat, Eyes watering, Itchiness Eye and throat infections Bacteria Streptococcus
Tenderness around wounds, Pain in kidney area and possible pain in passing urine Urinary tract infections, Severe infections in open wounds, Possibly fatal in minors Bacteria Proteous Pseudomanas
Diarrhoea, Stomach cramps, Dehydration Gastro enteritis Bacteria Coliform
Fever weakness, Severe Flu like symptoms Pneumonia type infection possibly fatal Bacteria Klebsiella, Pneumonia, Legionella
Fibres, Smoke, Dust, Carbon, Asbestos And many other manmade fibres etc Could cause any of the above in more minor or serious cases Bacteria No specific area Would come under general contamination

Extract from A.E.M.E PUB 5th edition

 

Big amounts of dust, gathered on fans, fire dampers, volume control dampers and other parts of your ventilation or air condition system is another problem. It not only makes perfect condition for microorganisms to grow. It also can heavily decrease the air flow, preventing the system from operating correctly. This could lead to a bad smell and dampness from the ventilation system. Dust gathered in ductwork is also a potential fire risk.

How to Keep it Clean

If you want to avoid problems with ductwork hygiene and air quality you should perform regular inspections and checks. If there is any visible dust or debris on your outer grills or inside the ductwork, that means you need to have your system cleaned. To be sure that there are no harmful quantities of bacteria and yeast a swab test can be performed, and if the levels of microorganisms are over the limit, the system should be disinfected.

All Clean (Worcester) Ltd.  provides a high-quality service in the maintenance of fire and smoke dampers and cleaning of ventilation systems. If you are interested to have your ventilation system cleaned please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Mark Weston